It was 1994 the first time I visited Ney York City with Ainhoa, at that time my girlfriend, today my wife. Just two kids with not much money in their pockets. We had a creepy room in a so called “hotel”. That type of hotel where they rent the other rooms by the hour. It was super well located but there was too much action in there, you know what I mean….

Anyway, we felt in love with the city, its museums, the people…. Everything went well, but we had a small issue at our first big dinner expense.

Please don´t judge me, but it was the 90´s and the cool thing to do was to have dinner at the Hard Rock Café and buy one of their T-shirts. We ordered the special in the menu, the “New York Burger” some onion rings and I guess a couple of drinks. It was delicious and we felt as the coolest people in the world.

When we finished our dinner the waiter (let´s call her Jenifer) brough us the ticket. For us at that moment was a mega expensive dinner it added up to 98,8$ taxes included. We paid cash with a 100$ bill, and we said, “please keep the change”. Jenifer´s face changed from a bright smile to a WTF face, she left our table and returned in less than a minute with the manager.

Has everything been OK?

Did you have any problem with Jenifer?

That manager was enraged, infuriated, pissed. He was MAD! To tell you the truth we didn´t know what was going on. At the end of his shouting, he invited us to NEVER return to any Hard Rock Café.

We found out later that leaving a 1,2$ tip is the rudest thing we could have done.

Tipping in Spain is not as common or expected as it is in the USA or Canada. While it’s not unheard of to leave a small tip for excellent service, it’s not customary to do so and is not expected.

In Spain, it’s typical to round up the bill or leave a few coins as a gesture of appreciation, rather than a percentage-based tip. For example, if your bill comes to 23.50 euros, it’s common to round up to 25 euros as a courtesy.

That being said, it’s important to note that tipping anything at all, is not mandatory, and there is no obligation to do so. Unlike in other countries where not tipping can be seen as rude, in Spain, it’s simply not part of our culture. If you want to be a loved customer you can tip a 10% of the ticket, that for us is a very good tip. One more thing, please always tip in CASH, if you put it on the credit card, it will never reach the waiters and the chefs.

In some cases, a service charge may already be included in the bill, particularly in larger restaurants or for larger groups. In these cases, it’s not necessary to leave an additional tip unless you feel that the service was exceptional. It will read “servicio incluido” in your ticket.

It’s also worth noting that tipping in Spain is not expected for every service. For example, it’s not common to tip taxi drivers, massage therapist, hotel maids or hairdressers, and it’s also not necessary to leave a tip for bartenders or baristas.

Overall, while tipping is not a significant part of Spanish culture, leaving a small gesture of appreciation for excellent service is always appreciated. 

This year Madrid´s state government has launched a campaign urging the public to tip for all this kind of services. It has been very controversial; it has made it front page in newspapers and has opened the news on TV. We simply don´t get it, and we don´t know how to do it.

By the way, in Spanish to say tip, we say PROPINA


PS: If by any chance, you know any Jenifer who worked in NYC´s Hard Rock Café in the 90´s please let her know that we are very sorry.

PS2: Here is the Comercial I was talking about.